The lead prosecutor in Oscar Pistorius‘ murder trial said Pistorius and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp were talking when he fatally shot her, a claim Pistorius denied Friday.
“That’s the only reasonable explanation,” said prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who has said that Pistorius killed Steenkamp after an argument on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013.
Pistorius has said he didn’t hear Steenkamp say anything when he was approaching a toilet door with his 9mm pistol, believing an intruder was locked inside.
Pistorius said he screamed for the intruder to get out of his house and for Steenkamp to call the police, thinking Steenkamp was still in bed. Steenkamp was actually behind the door. He then shot four times through the locked door, killing Steenkamp inside.
“She would have been terrified, but I don’t think that would have led her to scream out,” Pistorius said. “I think she would have kept quiet for that reason.”
Nel called it “the most improbable part” of Pistorius’ account, that he didn’t hear Steenkamp talk while three meters away from him when he shot.
“She wasn’t scared of anything,” Nel told Pistorius. “Except you.”
Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, he could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.
Neighbors previously testified that they heard female screams coming from Pistorius’ house that night. Nel said Thursday that Steenkamp “ran away screaming” after an argument. Pistorius said he couldn’t hear anything while he shot due to his ears ringing from the decibels of his four gunshots.
“There are many times that I’m haunted by what she probably thought in the last moments that she lived,” Pistorius said Friday, his third day of cross-examination. “I wish she let me know she was there [behind the door], and she did not do that.”
Earlier, Judge Thokozile Masipa told Nel to stop calling Pistorius “a liar” while questioning him. Nel obliged and, through the rest of the day’s proceedings, described Pistorius’ testimony as “not true,” “a lie,” “contradictory versions” and “so far-fetched.”
Pistorius rubbed his eyes during answers and was asked by Nel why he was emotional.
“Because this is the night I lost the person I care about,” Pistorius said. “I don’t understand how people don’t understand that.”
The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Monday with more cross-examining from Nel.